The Book of Jake

Part I

Winsted, Connecticut…

Let’s get to it. I’m Little Voice. “LV.” I’m the other half of the conversation inside Jake’s head. Jake knows things, and so I know things. Normally I would inform him, but not with Jake. We’ve become an endless argument…

This is Jake. Winsted is Jake’s DNA, too. Jake carries the rubble of Main Street with him. The wreckage in him, like the flood of 1955, effervesces from his mind like

scar tissue.

Could Jake break the destiny of generations? Could Jake be the hope?

I drive Jake nuts sometimes. He has always heard me, whether he wanted to or not. I’m loud and clear, and always have been, at least since nursery school. It’s hard enough having conversations with people you can see. Jake hates our banter.

The older Jake grows, the more he tries to shut me up, shut me off, ignore me.

Nothing works.

In his failure lies the hope, while his denials manifest his tragedies. And you know what? I can’t shut up. As I mentioned, Jake knows things, so I know things. It’s impossible to shut me up because it’s impossible to shut him up.

 

Chapter 1

Black Friday

“Why are we going to Litchfield to shop?” Jake asks.

Your brother isn’t shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Not in a store.

“Just shut up,” Elliot says. “This won’t take long.”

Jake, you’re supposed to be going to Shawn’s.

“I’m scared of Elliot,” Jake mumbles.

Not out loud.

“What did you say?” Elliot sneers. “Remember, big brother’s in Derby. He’s not here to save you.”

“I’m not worried,” Jake says more clearly.

Yeah, right.

“If you’re not shopping, why are we going to Litchfield?” Jake asks.

“I have to pick up something from a friend. Is that okay with you?”

Don’t piss him off.

I’m not pissing him off. I just asked him a question.

Don’t ask him anything. You know what he’s up to, don’t you?

No.

Think about it.

I can’t. You won’t shut up. How can I think about anything when you’re always blabbering?

I love it when Jake tries to shut me up. It never works.

Elliot drives through the center of Litchfield and turns right onto Spencer Street, across from Mom’s school. We park in a driveway Jake doesn’t recognize. He thinks he hasn’t been to Litchfield since he got thrown out of the second grade.

Elliot opens the car door. “Come with me.”

We follow bad brother around the back of the garage and enter through a door with a big split in the bottom panel. Jake thinks the music coming from inside must have cracked the door panel. It’s really loud.

Jake recognizes Mike, who was at the pool party last summer. With his back almost in the space heater Mike takes another swig of beer. He hardly looks at Jake.

The music’s splitting my ears.

So cover them.

No. Then it’ll be only you.

Elliot puts his mouth right up to this other guy’s ear, or into his long hair. The older three leave. It’s just us and the noise.

What is this place?

The other guy reappears and turns off the music. “We’ll be back,” he says, grabbing a pack of Zig-Zags off the bench.

Jake looks around the garage.

Could I look around the garage by myself? Just me?

Fine.

There are all kinds of tools Jake’s never seen before, and all this steel clamped together on the floor with big wires running everywhere. With the music off, Jake hears only the blower from the space heater and the hum of florescent lights trying to function in the cold. It’s dim in the garage. The lights don’t shine properly, and everything’s dark and sooty.

Jake’s never seen a shop like this before.

Shut up. Please shut the hell up.

There’s a drill press sitting on the workbench. Jake knows what it is because there’s one in the basement at home.

This is interesting. This garage has two drill presses—one big black one standing on the floor and this little gray one up on the bench.

With a wire wheel in it.

What’s a wire wheel?

In the chuck. That’s what’s going to spin.

And do what?

It’s for cleaning steel.

How do you know?

I don’t. That’s what I guess it’s for.

Jake sees a switch on the side of the bench. What’s the matter with him? He must know that he shouldn’t touch it. It’s as if some other voice is calling to him, one he can’t quite hear. It’s that little drill press, isn’t it? It’s a smartass like Elliot. It’s daring Jake to turn it on. Come on, turn me on. Yeah, turn me on, dead man.

If it could speak, if Jake could hear it, that would be exactly the voice. And more than that, it practically takes Jake’s hand and plunks it on the switch.

Jake’s itching to flick it on. He looks at the wire wheel in the chuck, and then at the switch, and then back at the wire wheel. He’s thinking he’s pretty sure that switch is for the drill press.

He wants to turn it on.

Shut up.

He hesitates––thankfully––and turns away. But of course he spins back and pounces on the switch.

Anything to shut you up.

The bench groans as the wheel roars.

Jake’s eyes grow wide. His jaw drops open. The wheel drowns out the sound of the heater and the lights, and me. It spins like hell fury. The wire wheel starts to turn up on its side as the arbor bends. The whole bench thumps.

Someone screams, “No!”

And then a loud bang.

Jake’s head rings like a rock hit a bell.

Everything’s all warm around his cheek, and what’s this?

Cold floor.

 

 

 


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American born L Dalton White lives this chapter of what has been an amazing journey in a small village in the Westerwald region of Germany. Since 2007 Dalton has had the opportunity to focus on fiction. With The Book of Jake and Complicity published, he continues with several other novels. They include Playing In The Band, Crackup, The Carpenter’s Companion, and So Long As It’s A Glass.